Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | July 13, 2010

Bourbon Cocktail Challenge: A Lively Corpse & the Danube Sling

Via Mike at Whisky Party, I found out the Brandy Library in New York is having a small, non-professional only cocktail creation contest featuring Elijah Craig 12 year old bourbon. The Bourbon Cocktail Challenge is taking place this week and I’ve submitted an original creation to it.

Here’s my submission to the contest:

A Lively Corpse

1 oz bourbon (Elijah Craig 12 year old)
1 oz triple sec (Luxardo Triplum)
1 oz vermouth blanc (Dolin Blanc)
1 oz fresh lemon juice
2 dashes absinthe (Kubler)

Combine all ingredients and shake over ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a bourbon cherry.

I was actually pretty surprised and pleased to get a workable Corpse Reviver variation with a bourbon base. This comes out quite well-balanced, though still boozy and tart. The Dolin Blanc actually holds up far better than I’d expected with some robust ingredients.

While I really enjoyed making A Lively Corpse, it was actually the second drink I’d submitted to this contest. My first is a drink I call the Danube Sling.

Danube Sling

2 oz Elijah Craig 12 year old
1 oz Maraska Pelinkovac
0.75 oz simple syrup
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz club soda
Pour Elijah Craig, Pelinkovac, syrup and lemon juice into a shaker, add ice and shake. Double strain into an ice-filled highball. Top with club soda. Garnish with a thick lemon peel and a bourbon cherry.
I actually think this is one of the better balanced and accessible drinks I’ve ever come up with. I have a strong preference for boozy, rich, savory cocktails – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but what usually happens as a result is that my originals are cocktails that my girlfriend, Lori, thinks are too strong. And I’m sure many people would agree with her. The Danube Sling is light, crisp, refreshing and complex. While having a slightly bitter profile, it should be accessible to most drinkers.
Maraska Pelinkovac is a bitter liqueur from Croatia that actually sits somewhere between a quinquina or bitter fortified wine and what you normally would think of a bitter amaro. Because of this, it can be used in lieu of either a vermouth or a more bitter liqueur. I’ve really only seen Pelinkovac used at cocktail bars in Portland, Oregon – I’ve never seen it in DC. It’s somewhat hard to get, though I know you can get it at Astor Wine & Spirits. Anyway, I checked with the Brandy Library and it wasn’t an ingredient they could carry, so I submitted A Lively Corpse instead.
For those still interested, the deadline for the Brandy Library’s Bourbon Cocktail Challenge is July 14th and only amateurs can submit recipes for consideration – no professional bartenders allowed!


  1. I just got some Pelinkovac, the Danube Sling seems like a good recipe to try out!

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